Sneak preview, 3/4 done!
I got my copy of Doris Chan's new book "Everyday Crochet" and I love it! Maybe it deserves a flashier title, but on the other hand, it might be just what it says: crochet for garments I will actually wear. I'm starting with "Jewel." Doris Chan "Everyday Crochet" on Amazon.com
I have never been a fan of following a "recipe" and making something just the way the book says (how would I use up my stash?!). I've made only a few garments: baby sweater using Maggie Righetti's wonderful book "Crochet in Plain English" (if I only had one book on the shelf, that might be it). The design process Righetti presents is top-down raglan style, and I was hooked -- it is more like "how to cook" than "make this recipe." However, I have been having trouble trying to invent myself a sweater using this approach; fitting requires a LOT of trial and error because I don't know what I'm doing.
SO -- TA-DA! Doris Chan's brand-new book is JUST what I needed. It gives me theme and variations, all using the raglan/top-down (fit-as-you-go) approach. But unlike me, SHE knows what she's doing, so the right combinations of yarn, stitch pattern, and shaping has been worked out. So I'm going to jump in. Once I have made one garment according to plan and feel more confident of my skills, her book gives many ways to adapt, alter, use different yarn, modify body shaping, and customize. (I do wish there was something about collars -- my neck gets cold! -- but it does seem like it would be relatively easy to add a collar).
So, in an unprecedented move (for me) I'm actually planning to buy exactly the yarn she suggests for "Jewel," a simple pullover with 3/4 sleeves, and make it, just for the learning experience (and to have a great top to wear!). That is, if I can find Classic Elite Premier (cotton/tencel) in a color I like. Luckily she gives very useful notes on yarn substitution and how you can go in adapting other yarns (and how far is too far ... !). But I'd like to stick to the plan
Anybody want to play along?
I bought this book a few days ago and I agree its just fabulous! 'Jewel' is a great sweater, but I think my first project is going to be the 4-S Vest. Short and sweet and since cooler weather is coming the timing is perfect.
Hi Joy -- what yarn will you use for your vest?
That vest was tempting to me, too, esp. since it doesn't use a lot of yarn, and I thought I might be able to use some of my stash. But no! Yesterday I went to one of my LYS (Dinah's in Port Hadlock) and got some help choosing yarn, since they didn't have the cotton/tencel in the book (I guess fall is not the time to shop for cotton yarns!). I chose based on DC's (Doris Chan's) recommended 5.5 stitches per inch (22 st/4"), and came home with Sirdar Snuggly "Baby Bamboo" (80% bamboo, 20% wool). It is so soft! For my first top, I am using off-white so it's easy to see the stitches and (oh yeah) so it's adaptable to wear.
I'm up to round 4, completing the neckline, which took some inspired guessing to figure out how to translate her directions -- I wish there was a picture! but I figured it out, eventually, and it makes sense and looks good. I'm not used to using the base chain/single crochet foundation; it is nice and stretchy, not inelastic like a plain chainstitch foundation.
Onward! As soon as my houseguests leave....! Rainy Sunday, good for staying indoors with the yarn.
I'm going to use 100% wool. And I'm going to make it a solid color, probably a warm beige or maybe black. I'm guessing you live in Washington (my parents are in Sequim). Do you have a Michael's near you? They have Lion Wool on sale this week for $4/3.5 oz. skein, that's a pretty good price for a basic wool yarn. We don't have a local yarn store here. The closest is Walnut Creek (about 30 miles).
But enough about me...I'm more excited about your bamboo yarn! I bought 11 skeins of Patons Bamboo last week in the most gorgeous pink you can imagine. No project for it but I absolutely had to have it (and I bought all of it, too!). I think the Patons is blended with acrylic, not wool, but same thing - so soft you just can't resist. So please let me know everything you discover about working with this yarn; how it drapes, stitch definition...just everything! And thanks for the heads up about her directions, I'll know to read very carefully and work slowly.
Also just wanted to mention about 'wraps per inch' when substituting yarn. I leaned about this in Interweave Crochet spring issue. If they give the WPI number in the pattern instructions its pretty easy to figure. You wrap your intended yarn around a ruler (don't pull real tight) then count how many times around in one inch. If it goes around fewer times, your yarn is too thick; more times, your yarn is too thin. This worked very well for me with my summer projects.
One more thing and then I'll leave you alone - foundation stitches. Another great thing from Interweave Crochet! They had the best article with diagrams and step-by-step instructions. There's no going back for me now. It's even easier to put an edging on if you've used the foundation stitches.
When you finish your top, please post a photo! I'd love to see it.
Wow. I really appreciate your struggles and commentary. I also got the book about the same day I signed on here, and it looks wonderful! I started out by learning that I'm going to have to work on that foundation-first row business for a while. It looks so easy. I'm using the Spring 2007 Interweave Crochet for a text.
Meanwhile I have a couple of projects on the hooks for family members, so I'm stealing the time. I just wanted you to know you're appreciated.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
Hi Whisperlouise, Thanks for your note! My grandmother was Louise; that's a picture of her that is my "avatar" and she taught me to crochet!
It took me a while to get the hang of the base chain/foundation SC (or base chain/DC, which was the way I first encountered it) but it is REALLY worth the practice! It makes a wonderful springy edge; it is so much easier to work in to that a regular foundation chain.
It helped me get it when I realized it's sorta like making extended single-crochet, a stitch I've been using a lot lately and liking. It also helps if I pinch the chain (the first loop you pull through) with my left hand as I go, so I don't lose track of where to put the hook for the next stitch.
I'm rockin' and rollin' with "Jewel" -- a few more rounds to go before I join up under the arms to make the armholes, and continue southward with the body.
I'm already looking ahead: can I afford 5 balls of cashmere to make the Mei-Mei cropped cardi (on the cover)!? Or maybe by then I will be confident enough to try to adapt some of the beautiful soft periwinkle yarns from my stash -- can I mix some mohair with some rayon/silk with some silk with some other stuff?!? Stay tuned.
I'm still trying to figure out how to put pictures into my posts. Here's a link to flickr where I posted a picture of the first few rows of my "Jewel" -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/skeinfest/
Your pictures are great! I'm really impressed with your 'Jewel' so far. And the socks are cute - I was reading the sock threads (no pun intended) here the other day and it's got me interested in trying a pair. That's something that I've never made before but it actually looks quick and easy, which has been my mantra lately. What's the best yarn to use for socks?
What's the best yarn to use for socks?! Sock yarn!
Many manufacturers make yarn that is specifically intended for socks, often wool with a thread of nylon for durability, and often in self-striping colors, lots of fun to work. Or any lightweight yarn; for added strength you can carry along a thread of woolly nylon (made for use in sergers; stretchy and thin and fuzzy and very strong).
Thicker yarn makes thicker socks; my "sock yarn" socks are already pretty thick and only fit in to my "winter" shoes.
I haven't finished the socks made from Panda Cotton (54% cotton, 24% bamboo, 21% nylon from Crystal Palace Yarn) shown in the picture. I'll post a picture of my favorites made from "Trekking XXL" (that's the brand, not the size) -- long repeats of five different colors, wool with nylon.
Maybe I should post this on the sock thread....
Thanks for your note!
"Jewel" yoke, raglan increases at one corner, as of Sunday! Now, I have about 3 rows to go until I can join up the corners under the arms to make the 3 openings (2 sleeves and one torso). This is the bamboo (80%) and wool yarn from Sirdar. It is so nice in my hands as I work; I think it will feel good to wear.
(And I am feeling so pleased with myself that I figured out how to post a picture from my Flickr account!)
Teresa, I see that you write down the numbers of the rows you have to do. I do that as well. I keep a notepad handy, write the row numbers and follow that. I cross them off as I complete them. It's the only way I have found to keep my place in a pattern.
Hmm, looks like I have another book to buy. I just bought "Not your Mama's Crochet". I'm going to end up with more patterns than I have time to complete!
A comment on DC's foundation row - I tried the sc version for the first time on a swatch Friday. Love, love, love it. I used it for real yesterday. No more chains for me.
Yes indeedy! that foundation base chain/single crochet is nice! took me a while to see how to work it; I kept losing track of where to insert the hook, and getting odd-looking chains. But well worth the learning-time!
It makes the neckline of the Jewel top; it's nice and stretchy! And the stitches on the edge are big and obvious; these are the ones that I'll work into when I do the finishing rows around the neckline. Not like trying to dig in to a bunch of teensy chain stitches!
Your sweater is gorgeous! I'm so impressed, you've made a ton of progress since the last photo. Now I'm itching to start my 4-S vest. Maybe tonight....
Still life for crocheters.... I really should get back to work!